After years of experimenting with scarily scientific creams and peels, beauty treatments have veered towards authentic and ancient Indian treatments like the good old
chandan mukh lepa
(sandalwood facemask).These are becoming popular at the best spas in town. The message is clear — we are now looking back in search of the purest ways to attain beauty. After years of frustration with botox and bleaches, an increasing number of women are opting for personalised ayurvedic treatments with curative properties that also make them feel good.
According to Shahnaz Husain, one of the country’s most prominent Ayurveda exponents, "It’s a global movement, to seek wellbeing and not just beauty, and Ayurveda does just that."
Hayley Louise Dack, director, The Imperial Spa and Salon says, "Ayurveda has some time-proven tricks to make your skin radiant without loading up on chemicals. It works on the principle of keeping vata (wind) at bay."
According to experts, some classical Ayurveda treatments have a proven efficacy and work according to specific doshas (according to Ayurveda, there are three doshas or bodily humours — vata, pitta and kapha) in the body.
So, for instance, sirodhara uses lukewarm oil poured in an even stream on the forehead to revitalise the body and mind. Another treatment — the takradhara — uses cool medicated buttermilk poured on the forehead to reduce insomnia.
Wellness expert Geeta Nair believes it isn’t considered ‘modern’ anymore to opt for the latest filler or laboratory treatment. "People are going back to things that are safe and are a cultural touchstone," she says. Husain adds, "The heritage of Ayurveda is unrivalled and that’s why you see the most cosmopolitan city dwellers turning to all-natural products."
So go ahead and happily give yourself over to tan lepa (body mask) udwarthana (dry herb massage) and champissage (champi and massage) — the new beauty must-do’s!
The art of healing & wellbeing
Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of natural and holistic healing. The oldest known texts on Ayurveda are Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita , Ashtanga Hrudaya. Black Diamond Bhashma treatment
Bhasma (calyx) of black diamond is combined with anti-oxidants like ginseng, green tea, sandalwood oil and musk and the mixture is scrubbed on the body. The body is then wrapped in a specially-formulated lepa (mask) to tone and regenerate skin cells.
Curative properties: Anti-ageing
Where: Shahnaz Signature Salon, Kohinoor Mall, GK 2
Cost: Rs 10,000 onwards
Other treatments to try: Anti-cellulite neem and ashwagandha lepa
Udwarthanam (Dry powder massage)
A herbal dried powder prepared according to skin specifications is rubbed from head to toe to revive the skin.
Curative properties: Aids weight loss
Where: Westin, Gurgaon
Cost: Rs 4,500 plus taxes
Other treatments to try: Podikizhi, which involves medicated bundles that are used to massage frozen shoulders
Man to Maharaja marma massage
This century-old therapy that was used by both commoners and kings to feel pampered involves oil extracted from locally-grown herbs being rubbed against the body for rejuvenation
Curative properties: Alleviates aches
Where: R the spa, Radisson Blu Plaza, Mahipalpur
Cost: Rs 3,800
Other treatments to try: Ram Sita (couple massage albeit in a modern avatar complete with champagne and strawberry fondue)
Elakizhi (Herb potli massage)
Medicated oil is seeped into the skin with poultices of select herbs and leaves used as a warm compress. This is followed by a massage
Curative properties: Tackles arthritis
Where: Devarana Spa, Dusit Devarana, Samalkha
Cost: Rs 6,500 plus taxes
Other treatments to try: Ayur Shanta (head and body massage to promote sound sleep)
Cow's milk dip potli massage
Known as Najavara kizhi in Ayurveda, the treatment at the specially-dedicated Kerala suite at the Imperial spa begins with a vigourous oil massage followed by a concoction of Najavara rice cooked in a blend of herbs, dipped into pure cow’s milk and then made into poultices, which are rubbed over the body to induce perspiration.
Curative properties: Strengthens nervous system, helps in osteoporosis
Where: The Imperial Spa, Janpath
Cost: Rs 5,800 plus taxes
Other treatments to try: Gharshana neem and rose scrub (neem, turmeric, rose blended with gram and chickpea to create a detox scrub)
Pehelwan maalish massage
The Indian full-body massage traditionally undertaken by wrestlers is a sweaty adventure based on the ancient practice of powerfully kneading, stretching and stroking the muscles and tendon joints. The deep-tissue massage uses firm strokes, which, though they can be customised, are still not for the faint hearted who are used to the butterfly strokes of a Swedish massage.
Curative properties: Reduces soreness and muscular tensions
Where: Six Senses Spa, Jaypee Greens Golf and Spa Resort
Cost: Rs 4320 onwards
Other treatments to try: Champissage (Indian head champi with stimulating massage strokes) and marmakizhi (Herbal powder filled potlis used to cure rheumatism)
Snana (bath) & Dincharya
A holistic programme, it involves the five senses and includes inhaling medicated fumes to remove phlegm, holding honey in the mouth to improve tastebuds, and instilling medicated oil in ear canals to remove wax. The treatment is followed by an abhyanga massage.
Curative properties: Detox
Where: Jiva Grande Spa, Vivanta by Taj, Surajkund
Other treatments to try: Kati Basti (warm oil is poured into a black gram dough ring at the sore spot)